THEY say a picture is worth a thousand words. So a moving picture should be worth a million. That theory was put to the test by coverage of the soccer riot in Dublin last week. It prompted reams of column inches in the press and hours of electronic media material - first showing what happened then analysing it to death. Newsnight, the topical debate programme on BBC World (Wharf Cable), featured three politicians (two British, one Irish), a sociologist specialising in soccer hooliganism and a representative of the Football Supporters Association. There was all the predictable indignation, condemnation, soul-searching, 'something must be done' pontificating and 'why-oh-why' breast beating. But with all that talk little mention was made of the role that the floodlights had to play in the eruption of ugliness. In the haste to see a conspiracy of neo-nazis and Ulster loyalists aided and abetted by slack policing and careless ticket allocation, another possible cause of the violence was overlooked. Until six months ago Lansdowne Road had no floodlights, which meant internationals had to be played in the afternoon. Despite Ireland's liberal licensing laws such early kick-off times denied fans four or five hours drinking time. For England fans arriving on the same day it would have meant hardly any time to drink in the city, only on the boat crossing. Case in point - in 1991 the two teams played in daylight hours in a more important match, a European Championship qualifier, and there was no trouble. But then again the score on that occasion was 1-1 and England's pride wasn't hurt. This time certain England die-hards, already frustrated by the prospect of a fifth successive failure to beat Ireland and with their sensibilities warped by alcohol, reacted with a primeval rage. So much for the words. What about the pictures? Well there were many, dramatic in themselves, but the way they were used only served to show how meaning can be manipulated. For example, two brief snippets on BBC were edited back-to-back showing an emotional Ireland manager, Jack Charlton, on the pitch. In the first clip he manhandled a fan by the collar and in the second he told a group of fans to 'go home'. The reporter's voiceover gave the distinct impression that this showed Charlton's anger at the England fans. Yet the crowd of people in the second snippet were clearly all Ireland supporters so Charlton's 'go home' meant 'go back to your houses', not 'go back to England'. Generally speaking, the more unambiguous the better the pictures were. Most powerful of all was the sequence where an England fan deliberately leaned his face into the camera frame to spit. His globule of phlegm on the lens exemplified the mindless defiance of the rioters. JUST 18 days before the riot Ireland had hosted England at the same venue for a Five Nations rugby match without a hint of animosity among the fans. Ireland entertain France in two weeks time and that match will be shown on Prime Sports (STAR TV) as part of their comprehensive Five Nations coverage. Saturday's two games provided more trouble-free entertainment but no shortage of drama as Welsh prop John Davies became the first player to be sent off in a Five Nations match, and Scotland recorded their first win over France at the Parc des Princes. THE NBA's annual All-Star weekend climaxed last Monday morning (Hong Kong time) live on ESPN (Wharf Cable) with the West v East game (highlights shown on ATV World on Saturday). In past years this mid-season carnival has had a certain frisson - 1991's was a tonic for the Gulf War troops and 1993's marked the emotional farewell of Magic Johnson - but this year there was no strong theme. The game was a 139-112 blowout by the West but the sight of opponents Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing frequently laughing and joking with each other during play emphasised that this wasn't to be taken seriously as a contest. In tune with the fun spirit of the event, the best action of the whole weekend was performed by the Phoenix Suns' Gorilla mascot who trampoline-jumped and somersaulted to make a dunk. CONTINUING Prime Sports' (Star TV) commitment to cricket fans in the region, the New Zealand centenary tournament live games gave a bright, if very early, start to the day on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and yesterday. Coverage of the one-day pyjama game series between Australia, South Africa, India and New Zealand continues this week.